China Short Term Study Abroad 2017
Monday, June 5, 2017
6/4 Educational Blog
Today we left Chengdu Sport University at 5:30 am. Our flight to Shanghai was at 7:35 am. Yeah. Talk about cutting it close. We always manage to make it on time though! Our flight went well and we arrived in Shanghai around 10:30 am and drove to the Shanghai Sport University. We are staying in student dorms which are nice, but we’re on the sixth floor and there’s no elevator. So after we climbed upstairs with all of our stuff we went to lunch. A friend and recent graduate of IC joined us, her name is Tian.
After lunch most of us crashed for two hours, some ventured off and got bubble tea. At 4:30 pm we met for an early dinner, went back to the dorm and showered, and then walked to the bus stop to go to Shanghai. The bus ride took about an hour, but it was so worth it. We went to the downtown market area. We walked around for about a half hour. Some people bought more trinkets and souvenirs. Some people went for Hagen Daas and Dairy Queen. Some people tried the local street foods like soup dumplings. It was a really nice market place. When we regrouped we visited the Chenghuang Temple, a famous temple in the market place. It was very pretty. Then we met up with Hongwei and Dr. Sigg and his wife Brynne. We went to the Bund area. It’s like the Times Square of Shanghai. It was the original financial center for Asia, and also a common dating place. It used to be grass/wetlands, but now there are many sky scrapers and bright light. It’s wear the Pearl Tower is (the spinning restaurant). There are also many banks in the area that were built in the 1920s, so it has a very NYC vibe. The Bund area started to develop in the 70’s, and the tallest building was the Pearl Tower (but not anymore). A lot has changed over the last 40 years.
Then we walked through the downtown area some more to get to the train. We took the metro back to the hotel.
It was a really nice evening!
Ni hao! Today we arrived in our final destination, Shanghai! We were all up and ready to leave for the airport at 5:30am. We made it through security in record time as we are practically experts at this point. A bus (which was basically a sauna on wheels) took us from our gate to our plane where we said goodbye to Chengdu. A few hours later we were enthusiastic to have arrived in Shanghai and rest after having lunch. After dinner we went to visit a local market and the Bund. At the market we bartered for goodies, gifts, and souvenirs to take home to our families. Although there were many food options none of us could resist blizzards from Dairy Queen. The buildings and lights at the Bund were beautiful and many of us expressed that this was our favorite part of the trip. After a subway ride home we all went to bed to rest up for our final full day in China. Tomorrow we will be learning more traditional Chinese medicine as well as taking a boat ride on the river.
Monday, June 5, 2017
Rodniel Jae Person & Max Prestwich
Thursday proved to be another long, hectic day, as we all got up at around 5:30am to leave Chengdu Sport University by 6am and catch a high-speed train to the city of Chongqing by 7:10am. For breakfast, instead of getting authentic Chinese cuisine, we ended up eating at McDonald’s, as it was pretty much the only dining option available in the Chengdu Railway station at the time. This made a lot of us happy, as it was a good changeup from the local food we have been consuming the last week and a half, plus who doesn’t like hash browns every now and then? Riding on the speed train was exhilarating, as Hongwei claims that it is currently one of the fastest trains in the world. The two-hour train ride gave many of us a chance to relax, enjoy the landscape and catch up on some much needed rest from the early morning start.
Once we arrived in Chongqing, a couple of representatives from Southwest University greeted us, picked us up from the railway station and escorted us via bus to the campus. They also told us some fun facts about the city on the way there – apparently ‘Chongqing’ translates to ‘mountain city’ and holds residency to about 30 million people – almost 4 times as many as NYC!
Southwest University is another extremely prestigious university in China, ranking #3 in the country in terms of education. They have hundreds of different majors, but two of the most popular are PE Education and Athletic Training. While it is a general University, they still have an incredibly strong athletics program, particularly in Taekwondo and Diving where they have produced a number of Olympic Gold medalists. It is a massive campus with around 10,000 acres of space and over 50,000 full-time students.
After getting a grand tour of the campus and being introduced to a handful of students and faculty members, we had a very diplomatic meeting that introduced our schools, and then proceeded to exchange gifts. We were then each paired up with a Chinese student and had lunch with them in one of their cafeterias and integrated with them by learning more about their hobbies and interests – safe to say, their English is much better than our Chinese.
Once we finished lunch, we were given a traditional Chinese archery lesson, which was considerably different to the regular archery many of us had done before back in the U.S. Once we grasped the basic technique, we had a ton of fun firing a bunch of arrows and learning from a very experienced master. After the lesson concluded, we were given a tour of the University’s very own museum and visited the student art gallery, both of which were very impressive.
We were then led into a colossal gymnasium where we treated to a number of remarkable performances, such as an acrobatic jump rope routine, the changing face man and a cheerleading squad. We also gave a few performances of our own, such as Laura Schiller and Dr. Costello teaming up for a fantastic guitar duet, in addition to all of us demonstrating a basic tai chi routine, and capping it off with another Macarena performance.
The festivities in the gymnasium were concluded with a very professional but intense basketball game, led by IC’s own varsity basketball athlete, Aidan Fite. It was all in good spirits and we had a blast with the amount of support we got from all of the students and faculty members watching and participating.
Once the basketball wrapped up, we headed for a quick shower before being treated to a traditional southwest Chinese dinner, which was delightful. We thanked them for their hospitality and wished them well, before saying goodbye and taking the bus back to the Chongqing railway station.
Because our train back to Chengdu didn’t depart until 10pm, and we arrived at the train station at about 8:30pm, we killed some time by getting in some last minute shopping and playing a fun game that involved the entire group. We were all gassed by the time we boarded the train, so the vast majority of us passed out on the train and bus rides back to where we were staying at CDSU. We arrived back at approximately 12:30am, satisfied with the completion of another exciting day in China, and ready to take on all of the events and activities that lay ahead in the final few days of our trip.
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Today was a very somber day. Today we visited Shui Mo, the earthquake site of 2008. We took a van from Chengdu Sport University. It was supposed to take 2 hours but we got caught in some nasty traffic so it wound up taking 4 hours. When we got to the city, we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the surrounding mountains and the despair of the earthquake remains. We took a tour of a middle school, which happened to be the center point of the earthquake. We are not sure how many students lost their lives, but we saw a lecture hall and a dormitory all sunk into the ground. It was extremely depressing. But our group leaders held it together. A woman from the CSU Office of International Programs, Grace, was wonderful in giving a tour of the site. She explained how terrified everyone and that most activity (work and school) stopped for about a month after the earthquake, but she felt so much gratitude by the support of her friends in other countries. Everyone was calling her to make sure she and her family was okay. It was an incredible story.
We were only at the earthquake site for about 10-15 minutes. It was almost 1 o’clock and we hadn’t had lunch yet. We drove about 30 minutes to our next destination. We had lunch at a very nice, big restaurant. Most people in our group said it was their favorite meal. We had cured pork (very good, salty bacon), potatoes and corn, bamboo, and even pig’s tongue (undisclosed to our group).
After lunch we went shopping in the town we were in. People got scarves, flasks with alcohol already in them, and bracelets. Then we headed back to the bus and drove back to CSU. This time it really did only take 2 hours. But traffic in China is terrifying.
Hello all! Today we went to visit an ancient town called Shui Mo and the Earthquake site in Wen Chuan County. On the way we hit some traffic which caused what was supposed to be a two hour drive to last just about four hours. During this extra time we played some games like Heads Up to entertain ourselves. It ended up being a lot of fun and the time flew by! After visiting the earthquake site we had a delicious lunch at a small restaurant. The food was amazing, some of us even tried pig’s tongue! At the end of the meal we walked around the town and bought some small goodies and souvenirs.
In the evening a group of us went with some of the Chinese students to a restaurant outside of Jin Li to get some ice cream. They were selling an ‘ice cream tower’ which was basically a large ice cream sundae and was very good! By the end of the evening we were all so tired that after packing we fell straight asleep. Tomorrow we are off to Shanghai!
Thursday, June 1, 2017
It's our third day in Chengdu! Some of the students started their day bright and early by playing a game of basketball with some of the Chinese students at 6AM. We played with students we had meet the day earlier at the Dragon Fest and Taiwan international students staying at the same international center as us. While at the court we observed the sport culture that is embedded in this University. By 6AM many students were already using the facilities to practice their sport. To us this really revealed their cultural dedication to their sport and their health. Talking to some of the students we were playing with it was evident that the culture surrounding sport and health was a focus. Following the game everyone meet up at breakfast where we discussed our plans for the day. Shortly after, we had our official welcome ceremony at Chengdu where we met the administrators of the Sport University and many important people who are vital to the success of this program. During the ceremony we learned more about the history between Ithaca College and Chengdu Sport University and it's ten year relationship. The two colleges have been able to exchange knowledge, expertise and resources for the past ten years which has provided the two colleges with unique opportunities for students and faculty. Plans were also discussed about the colleges future plans with the program to ensure its longevity during transitional periods for the colleges. During the ceremony we received welcome gifts and gave gifts in return to thank the University for their hospitality and helping to foster a wonderful learning opportunity for us. One of the gifts that we received from the University was personal taiji (Tai Chi) uniforms with the partnership logo on the back. We then got to put those uniforms to use with a two hour taiji class with taiji Master Li Wei. During the class we learned the traditional eight form in preparation for our performance to an audience during our day trip to Chong Qing tomorrow. Many studies have shown the numerous health benefits of taiji and being able to learn this form of traditional Chinese culture and sport has been very beneficial to our education. For example, as a PT major you can see the benefits of using this sport especially in the low level form to address impairments in our patients. The impairments that can be addressed to name a few are coordination, balance, endurance, breathing techniques, etc. Which are all very important in the overall health of our patients during their rehab process. Taiji is a sport that can be modified and adjusted to accommodate a wide range of patient populations from the elderly to high level professional athletes. For a health education major the benefits of this sport can be seen in terms of community health programming. This sport can be utilized in a community setting for things like helping to reduce the risk of falls in the elderly or introducing low impact activity to obese children. The benefits of this sport are endless and our opportunity to learn it from a Master will be invaluable to our education. After class we had lunch in the cafeteria where we were able to sit with other Chinese students who we have not meet. It was interesting to exchange cultural differences in schooling, health and sport despite some communication barriers. We were able to practice our Chinese while they practiced their English and we also utilized translation apps to improve communication.
After lunch we had an hour break where some students took a nap since our days are scheduled with so many amazing cultural experiences! After our break we had a class on traditional Chinese medicine. We made a soup called yin er tan that improves lung and kidney function and promotes immunity. We used water, dates, goji berries, herbs and sugar cubes. It was so good! It is interesting to learn natural ways to heal the body to help avoid using antibiotics. Especially since antibiotic resistant microbes are on the rise, it is important to have alternative ways to treat people. Our teacher showed us a room full of herbs, plants and animals that are used for healing. They were sorted by what function they serve when healing the body. Then we talked about acupuncture, moxibustion (burning herbs), cupping (helps move blood around). Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) focuses on working with and aiding the body towards recovery, where western medicine tends to focus more on fighting whatever illness has entered the body. Through our educational training we have learned that incorporating both practices into the healing process can be beneficial. There is a time and a place for both styles. TCM began 2000 years ago. We learned about the medical monograph which has 4 main books for explaining how to practice TCM. The first is the yellow emperor. It is earliest book explaining the basics. The second is Shen nongs herbal classic. This book explains how to use different herbs for healing and which herbs help different parts of the body. The third book is the treatise on cold pathogenic and miscellaneous disease, by zhang zhong jing. This book has methods for healing the common viruses people normal get when the seasons change. Lastly, the
classic on 81 medical problems, by bian que. this explains the 4 diagnostic methods which are: inspection of the body, listening and smelling (auscultation and olfaction), inquiry (ask question), palpating and pulse taking. After using these 4 methods to examine the body, the doctor can come to a conclusion on what the patient is sick with. We also went into detail on how to take a pulse. The best time to take the pulse is in morning because your body is quiet and it's easy to detect abnormal pulse. The patient should put their palm at same level as heart in supine position or sit up straight. The Doctor uses 3 fingers, and the opposite hand of patient. Their hand should be curved like a ball. The three fingers are touching, searching, pressing. The pulse is differentiated in terms of depth, speed, strength, shape and rhythm. The wrist should be felt for no less than one minute. We got to practice on each other and a machine that replicated a human arm. Lastly we learned about a man named Hua Tuo, who is the oldest relative of surgery. He made narcotics out of herbs. Not only was he praised for his exceptional surgical abilities but he also created a 5 animal exercise for body building. The animals mimicked in this exercise are the tiger, deer, bear, monkey, crane. The exercise is called "Wuqinxi" and it also helps extend life. We got to practice Wuqinxi by following along to a video. The movements reminded me of the Tai Chi we learned yesterday. We have seen many similarities in Chinese medicine such as maintaining control over the body and using our breath as a guide for relaxation. After our TCM class we got to go learn ping pang (ping pong) from the Cheng Du Sport University ping pang team! Again, we got to interact with the students and practice our Chinese. They were very helpful in instructing us how to properly hit the ball, and use our whole body while playing. It was exhausting and fun! It was interesting to see how the same game in America can be played half way around the world. It really exemplified the unity between the two countries. Some of the students got very competitive and challenged the Chinese athletes! But we all had a fun time. We then had dinner and continued on to a lecture that our own professor Dr. Mike Costello was presenting! Dr. Costello discussed physical therapy management of neck and arm pain, and how mobilizing nerves and soft tissue or mobilization the joints can help to relieve patients symptoms by realigning the proper mechanics of body to help it heal itself. Our culture has become very sedentary which has resulted in an increase in neck and arm issues. Dr. Costello discussed ways to combat our new lifestyle by targeting certain nerves and mobilizing the body to relieve pain. Although most of the techniques were western practices, he is very knowledgable about TCM so it was interesting to see him utilize the two practices in his presentation. Currently, physical therapy is used as a tertiary method of healing meaning we only receive PT if we are already hurt, and in China it is hardly used at all. But In China they utilize more preventive medicine such as Tai Chi, whereas in America we hardly acknowledge preventive medicine. Using a cross culture analysis, we can conclude that exchanging different forms of healthcare will result in a healthier world. Using PT as preventive medicine, and adopting more TCM into current practice in China and America will benefit both populations. International communication within the health industry is the best way to continue advances towards a global healthier human race. At the end of the talk Mike even practiced some of the techniques on an audience member. There was a huge turn out and everyone was very impressed with his talk. Questions from audience members followed the presentation and lead to an interesting discussion with a Chinese student training to be a surgeon who was interested in learning how Dr. Costello's techniques could be used prior to surgery for some individuals. It was refreshing to hear a surgeon appreciate and acknowledge the benefits of Physical Therapy to assess a patients surgical candidacy. We were so honored to be able to see our professor present western medicine in a different culture. Lastly, it was Emma's 21st birthday so we had some cake at the hotel and celebrated for a little bit in the lobby. Then it was off to bed because we have an early morning tomorrow!
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
~~The first half of the day was a travel day, so most of our learning came from a trip to the Sichuan Museum, accompanied by some Chengdu Sport University students. We learned a lot about Sichuan culture and history through various artifacts and artistic pieces, ranging from paintings to plates to bronze kettles.
We started off in the ceramics section, where we saw a variety of interesting artifacts. One example that stood out to me was the frog shaped lamp. The lamp was like none other I'd seen before, but we learned that frogs signify longevity and fertility in the culture.
Another figurine we saw in this section was a "Green Glazed Tomb Guardian Figurine" which is meant to keep the afterlife peaceful.
We also saw a lot of Chinese horses. We learned that they had very short legs due to their need to navigate mountainous terrain while carrying lots of tea.
On that note, we saw teapots as well. The tour guide explained that people would grind tea into powder, choose their leaves, and then compete to see who had the best tea. The guide also discussed the other creative ways our Chinese ancestors used tea - for example, making it into porridge with ginger and salt.
Next, we saw various plates and cups - aka "china". We learned many interesting things about these pieces, but my favorite was the fact about the tricolor plates. Apparently, red can't be used for these plates because in the Chinese culture, red means happiness and these plates are used for three years after the death of a family member.
We then moved onto the bronze exhibit and saw multiple kettles, dings, and weapons.
The guide told us that the bronze ding was made from the highest quality of bronze and was used for the original hot pot supper. We will get to have that meal later this week, so that was cool to learn about.
We also looked at a famous bronze kettle that had 4 inlaid levels with right and left sides. Each section told a story and there were stories about women picking mulberries, karaoke, bird hunting, and fighting/attacking, just to name a few. Our tour guide was really funny and pointed out random interesting facts on the close up of the inlays - for example, how the mulberry pickers wore long dresses because they didn't wear underwear and how there was a decapitated man in the fighting scene.
My personal favorite part of the bronze exhibit was the weapons. We learned that the designs on the spears were family seals and that they came in sets of 5 because 5 was lucky for the ancient Chinese, (who preferred odd numbers) as 5 is in the middle of the other odd numbers (1, 3, 7, and 9).
Finally, we toured the Zhang Daqian section. The guide told us a bit about Daqian's background, like the fact that he had 4 wives and "various other women", 2 tigers, and severe diabetes. We also found out that he was a bit full of himself.
Then, she told us about his artwork. Apparently, Daqian used a lot of pearl, gold, and silver in his sketches along with precious stones and exclusive Tibetan flowers (for dye).
We saw some Buddhist works as well, which we were told had to be translated from Hindi (as Buddhism originated in India) to Chinese before finally being translated into illustrations like the ones we were shown.
Another Daqian piece featured a woman and her daughter. Again, we learned some really cool facts such as that there were small black swans painted on the woman's cheeks as artificial dimples (because dimples were a necessity to be considered beautiful in the culture) and that the hats had dangly parts hanging off the sides that would hit you in the face if you walked too fast to remind you to be ladylike. Also, we were told that the daughter was painted smaller because she is less important rather than because of her actual size.
We got to spend some free time with the University's students at a nearby park at the end of the day. It was a great opportunity to learn about their culture and lifestyle, such as what they eat (everything from snake and rabbit to rice and sugar cookies!) and drink (lots of tea and fresh squeezed juice) as well as where they party and hang out. We learned more about their school system, too, including how long their year is (September 1st - July) and when they start learning English (the basics are taught in primary school). We also got to hear about their personal lives, such as where they have traveled so far and where they wish to go in the future.
Overall it was a very educational day and we had a lot of amazing experiences while making great new and diverse friendships.
We made it to Chengdu, China! After a quick two-and-a-half-hour flight we made it. I am getting ahead of myself though… On May 29, 2017, we got up around four o’clock in the morning to meet in the lobby of the hotel to check out. Then we boarded the bus to the airport where we ran to the gate because of the airport being so crowded due to the holiday, the Dragon Boat Festival. Which we learned from our new Chinese friends was just a nice day off. The traditional celebrations were more popular in ancient China.
When we arrived in Chengdu we boarded a bus with no underneath storage for our luggage so we had to stuff it all in the back and then squeeze into the open seats that were left. This proved that Dr. Costello has really good tetras skills. He got all the bags into the bus while only compromising two seats. Dr. Costello and Emma had to hold the bags the whole 30 minute car to Chengdu Sport Institute, CDSU, where we will be staying until Sunday June 4th.
Upon arrival at CDSU we checked into our rooms, got lunch and then met up with some Chinese students that attend the Institute. Lunch consisted of the traditional spicy food that is so popular here and some other favorites from Beijing including watermelon and dumplings. I found that if you drink a lot of water after you eat the spicy food you can get the flavor of whatever you are eating without the burn of the spices. This proved very handy for me when dinner came around and for the rest of the trip.
Meeting all the Chinese students after lunch was really fun! We got the chance to talk and get to know each other on the bus ride to the Sichuan Museum. This was a great opportunity to get to know everyone and see what it is like to go to school in Chengdu. Everyone was really nice and Emma and I met a lot of friends today. The students showed us around the museum after we finished our guided tour. This allowed us to ask more questions. Most of the conversations started with “What is your name?” “What is your major?” (Which turned out to be mostly English.) After those two questions the conversations went in all different directions, talking about everything from sports to daily activities. About half of the Chinese students played basketball as they have a class that teaches the students the basics of playing the game. This is really fun because when Emma and I got into our rooms today there was a poster of Lebron James taped to our ceiling.
After the museum, we ate and then went to a nearby market where we got the chance to look around and buy more souvenirs to bring home to our families and friends. There was a bunch of people all bunched into the market. We were shoulder to shoulder with everyone there while walking through it. I really gave me a sense for how large the population actually is of China. The market was so large and yet everyone was crammed into it. Some people bought fresh juice drinks, with the help of our new Chinese friends, which turned out to be delicious! Then we all sat in chairs and listened to a woman sing live while we all talked until it was time to shower and get ready to see pandas in the morning!